Saturday, January 3, 2009

Customer (non) service

What does customer service mean to you?

Sharlyn Lauby wrote on some predictions, including customer service, in a recent blog post here. Since her posting, I have reflected on her point about customer service and the painful experiences that I have endured this week.

-Comcast went down. Apparently the modem we had wasn't a 'good' one so I needed to replace it. They are notoriously poor in their customer service but this was an entirely new experience. In five phone calls, I was given bad information, wrong information, just plain stupid information and incomplete information. And one of the service technicians hung up on me. I just wanted help navigating away from the Comcast welcome page!

-The power went out in the Grand Rapids area. The energy companies couldn't give people a reasonable timeline for restoration. The estimates varied from hours to days to 'no estimate is available at this time.' Nice, especially during the holidays.

-I called the Kent County Animal Shelter. I renew my dog's license annually, sending in the proper paperwork, along with the check. The woman I talked to, Kelly, told me that she had no idea when they would get to it. She went on to share that they were very busy, very short staffed and license renewals were the LAST thing they worry about in a day. (She sounded like the kind of person no one would want to work with - bitter, table for 1).

None of these entities have any incentive for increasing customer service. Our energy company and Comcast are monopolies; they have no reason to do a better job since they have no competition. And that for me, is just plain wrong. The animal shelter can't be a great place to work but taking care of people who call could lead to all kinds of help. You know, like volunteers.

I could write letters to complain but I would much rather speak with my wallet. Too bad I don't have that choice.

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